Quarterly news

A message from the Board

The Chair of the Board, Adrian Kennedy, resigned from the Board on 18 February due to personal reasons. The Board thanks Adrian for his service over many years in many capacities, and for his excellent leadership during the recent transitional period. We wish him all the best and hope to see him around very soon.

Tim Farhall also resigned from the Board on 19 February as he has moved to Dubbo to work as a solicitor with the Aboriginal Legal Service. The Board thanks Tim for his service over many years as a volunteer and in two stints as a Board member. Good luck Tim, and please come visit when you are in town.

On 18 February, the Board appointed board member Bruce McBain as the Chair of the Board. Bruce plans to serve in that role until the Board completes a search for a new Chair to be appointed to fill the vacancy created by Adrian’s resignation.

The Board has established a number of committees to assist in its work. They are as follows, with the associated appointments to each committee so far:

  • Finance, Audit and Risk Committee (2–3 members): Bruce McBain (Chair)
  • Fundraising Committee (3–5 members): Corinne Grant (Chair), Sandra McKay
  • Building Committee (3–5 members): Andrew Conley (Chair), Dan Mori, Jim Stavris
  • Publications Committee (3-5 members): Sandra McKay (Chair); Brian Wright, Rob McGuirk

Andrew Conley, Secretary and board member

Legal training forum for community workers

 Participants at the Legal Training Forum for Community Workers

Participants at the legal training forum for community workers

On Thursday 6 February 2014, we presented a full-day training forum at Fitzroy Town Hall. The aim of the forum was to assist community workers – who work with clients experiencing legal issues – to gain a better understanding of the areas of law that affect their clients. Topics covered included the criminal justice system, family violence and child protection.

The forum received overwhelming interest and positive feedback. Over 150 community workers attended the forum. 72% of participants were from the inner-northern metro municipalities (i.e., Cities of Yarra, Moreland, Darebin and Melbourne) while the remaining 28% were from various other metro and regional areas.

We are currently pursuing opportunities to work with other Victorian community legal centres to create a state-wide program that will deliver similar training forums at other metropolitan and regional locations.

Welcome to Legal Trainee: Hollie Golding

Hollie Golding

Prior to commencing my traineeship at the Fitzroy Legal Service, I had undertaken paid work for the day service, and volunteered at the family law night service for three years and with the lawyers based at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre. During my law studies, I volunteered as a Bail Justice and completed a semester-long placement (through La Trobe’s Judicial Mentoring Program) at the Geelong Magistrates’ Court, where I was mentored by the Regional Coordinating Magistrate, Mr Saines. I also completed a placement at the Children’s Court and shadowed a family law barrister.

Volunteering cemented my decision to practice law. It would be incredibly daunting to start working in the legal field without any real world knowledge of the practical realities of the profession. It gave me an opportunity to engage with real clients and it provided an overview of the practical aspects of the legal profession that university doesn’t.

I’m proud to be part of the team and look forward to the rest of the year. The first three weeks have been incredible!

Volunteer profile: Sengul Korkmaz

Sengul Korkmaz

Sengul has been volunteering as a paralegal with us for over three years. She is currently in the penultimate year of her law degree and is employed by a corporate law firm where she works in the media and privacy team. Sengul has found her time volunteering very rewarding and insightful. She enjoys working with the friendly Monday night team and finds all the volunteers extremely knowledgeable and supportive.

Outside of her studies and work, Sengul loves practising yoga and pilates. She also loves travelling and is soon heading off to Berlin to participate in an international program on dispute resolution.

Midsumma Carnival and Pride March

g the LGBTIQ Legal Advice Clinic at Pride March

Promoting the LGBTIQ legal advice clinic at Pride March

Earlier this year, our staff and volunteers promoted the LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) legal advice clinic at two Midsumma events: the Midsumma Carnival and Pride March. Midsumma is an annual cultural celebration of the Victorian LGBTIQ community’s courage, solidarity, pride and diversity that spans three weeks in January and February.

The carnival was held on Sunday 12 January 2014 on the grassy parklands of Alexandra Gardens. Our staff and volunteers handed out over 1,200 flyers for the LGBTIQ legal advice clinic, and distributed various legal education publications, including fact sheets on LGBTIQ family law issues (such as co-parenting arrangements, surrogacy, status of sperm donors, and parenting arising out of artificial conception) produced by our publications team and written by our amazing volunteer and family law specialist, Paul Boers.

Then, on Sunday 2 February 2014, despite the sweltering 40 degree heat, our staff and volunteers marched in style at Pride March. At the event, our team handed out over 600 flyers, bringing our combined total of flyers handed out at both Midsumma events to over 1,800.

Thank you to all the volunteers and staff members who assisted at these events.

Neighbourhood Justice Centre update

Jen Black

Jen Black, Senior Community Lawyer at the NJC, speaking at the legal training forum for community workers

It has been a busy month at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC). Community lawyers Lynne Thomas and Jen Black spoke at the well-attended community workers forum; they gave talks on infringements and sentencing options, and therapeutic jurisprudence, respectively.

Jen Black and Legal Trainee, Ella Crotty, ran training for WAM (Women and Mentoring Program) on our services and basic criminal procedure.

Lynne Thomas has also been busy with a fortnightly outreach service (called a ‘Billabong’) at Harmsworth Hall in Collingwood. She has also been developing new outreach opportunities, including at St Mary’s House of Welcome in Fitzroy.

In other news, our outgoing Legal Trainee, Ella Crotty, has secured a new position with us as a family lawyer based at the NJC. This full-time position is a great addition to the team at the NJC, and will focus on assisting residents within the City of Yarra. It will complement a new family law advice night clinic which will commence on Tuesday 8 April. It is an appointment-only service for City of Yarra residents; to make an appointment, phone 9419 3744.